Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, is promoting military intervention in Burma. This is dangerous imperialist idiocy

We seem to be living in a time-warp. The mentality that has informed British and western attitudes towards the humanitarian crisis in Burma rests on the belief that we are the only ones that can really help. I suggest that David Miliband, our foreign secretary, whose elevation to the Foreign Office seems to have been conducted in such a seamless fashion that he is still singing exactly the same old tunes of his former prime minister, should take a crash course in “the modern realities of East Asia”. In an interview with Radio 4’s World Tonight, he managed to speak about the crisis in Burma (more of that name anon) without, as far as I could hear, a single mention of cooperation with Asian powers. What age does he live in?

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London elections ’08: Ken Livingstone is a remarkable and far-sighted politician. Londoners would do well to vote him in for a third term

Ken Livingstone has been a most unusual figure in British politics for almost 30 years. He is like no other. Demonised and then condemned to outer darkness by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, he remained much loved by a wide cross-section of Londoners well beyond his own political constituency. Dismissed by Blairites as a hangover from the “loony left”, he survived their every effort to prevent him from becoming mayor, even having him expelled from the party. He has survived because he is a remarkable politician who combines four most unusual characteristics.

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Ian Wright’s departure from the BBC’s football punditry team casts shame on the corporation: it is guilty of cultural apartheid

So Ian Wright has decided to quit the BBC as a football pundit because he was made to look like a “comedy jester”. Too right. That is exactly how he was treated by the other pundits, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, and Alan Shearer. Wright was always made to look and feel as if he was the odd one out, never taken too seriously, his judgments discounted, his views made fun of, his relationship with his step-son Shaun Wright-Phillips the object of regular hilarity. It was demeaning; you could see Wright squirming, unsure of how to deal with it. As a viewer I found it embarrassing and distasteful. It was a grown man’s version of picking on someone in the school playground.

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Tata’s purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover signals that India and China are turning the old hierarchy of global trade on its head

The cost to Tata of purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar may have been small, but its wider symbolic significance is enormous. Western societies are slowly becoming used to the idea that India and China are set to emerge as major economic powers, but there remains an underlying assumption that the process starts in the economic and technological foothills and only much later reaches the summit.

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This is no blip. The global economic crisis will burst the bubble of free-market doctrine and force states to take a more active role

The world is holding its breath, still trying to grasp the potential enormity of what is unfolding. Economic downturns and stock market crashes are hardly unfamiliar, of course, even if a decade or so seems a long time ago for western consumers habituated to rising house prices and non-stop shopping. But this crisis threatens to be rather different, a Big One. Already it has forced the government to engage in what has been a heresy for almost three decades: nationalisation. Major crises such as the Northern Rock debacle are not matters of punctuation or pauses for reflection, but defining historical moments, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. The 1970s was a classic case, as huge oil price hikes fed an inflationary spiral that brought both the long boom and the postwar welfare consensus to an end, and led to the rise of neoliberalism and deregulation.

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He lost at the last but Lewis Hamilton rocked all expectations – and not just in formula one

A black formula one world champion seemed, even last year, unthinkable, yet Lewis Hamilton so nearly made it. This is a sport that has long suffered from an almost total white-out. Apart from the Japanese, virtually every face in the paddock, let alone on the starting grid, was, until recently, white. This is hardly surprising. The more expensive and/or exclusive a sport, the whiter it tends to be: the fact almost has the force of a law. That is the main reason why the Rugby World Cup, the Pacific islands excepted, was so desperately white, the Springboks included.

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Hamilton is an inspiration to black Britain – but his sport will remain white, writes Martin Jacques

There is little doubt, even at this early stage of his first season in Formula One, that Lewis Hamilton is a special talent, far eclipsing recent British drivers such as Jenson Button and David Coulthard. He has the great advantage of driving for one of F1’s most successful teams in a sport where equipment counts for far more than in any other. Michael Schumacher in a Toro Rosso would have made for great entertainment, but even his genius would still have been reduced to life in mid-field. Even with the advantage of driving for McLaren, though, Hamilton still looks exceptional – extremely fast, cool, mature beyond his years, and not in the least fazed by having the world champion, Fernando Alonso, as his team-mate. From his very first race, it felt as if Hamilton was born to be at the front of the grid, displaying, like Schumacher in 1991, an extraordinary self-confidence, an inner-belief that he was inferior to no driver. Yet this has been combined with a humility that is at once endearing and disarming.

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The celebrity premier’s successor can become a leader of substance if only he has the political courage to get serious

The imminent passing of Tony Blair will be a welcome relief. It is not a matter of overstaying his time as prime minister, for it was clear well before he became prime minister what he would be like in office; those who failed to see it coming were prey to wishful thinking – not unreasonable after 18 years in the Conservative wilderness – or simply misreading the tea leaves, neatly arranged as they were. Of course, there have been good works: the minimum wage, increased expenditure on public services and the rest of it. But that is small beer compared with what might have been – and whatever good has been done has been drowned out by the catastrophic occupation of Iraq. The question that should occupy us now is: will Gordon Brown be any better?

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The French presidential favourite’s pandering to the far right is indulged because of his pro-US stance and neo-liberalism

It is a disturbing mark of our times that Ségolène Royal enjoys such little support from the media and politicians on this side of the Channel, notwithstanding her highly credible performance in Wednesday’s TV debate. Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be their overwhelmingly preferred choice. Downing Street, unsurprisingly, is backing him: Tony Blair prefers the right as always – Silvio Berlusconi, José María Aznar, Angela Merkel, George Bush. David Cameron is supporting Sarkozy. So is the Economist. Matthew Parris, the Times columnist, is backing Royal, but only for the perverse reason that France is not yet ready for Sarkozy, but a Royal presidency will prepare the ground for his subsequent triumph.

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Anti-terror stunts and a barrage of propaganda are demonising Muslims and making Islamophobia the acceptable face of racism

Predictably enough, the action of the police in last year’s Forest Gate raid has been excused with the mildest of rebukes. Out of more than 150 complaints, only a tiny number were upheld. The whole operation, you will recall, was a figment of the security services’ imagination. A fortnight ago, there was another spectacular anti-terrorist operation, this time in Birmingham, concerning an alleged plot to kidnap a Muslim member of the armed forces. The pattern of these operations is now well established. The police swoop on an area, make dozens of arrests, accompanied by lurid media reports about the would-be plotters’ intentions. There have now been charges, although an innocent party who was arrested and then released has given a disturbing account of his experience in custody. The most alarming example was last summer, when it was alleged there was a plot hatched in Pakistan to blow up as many as 10 aircraft, which resulted in a huge security clampdown at Heathrow and new hand-luggage rules. But, despite a number of charges, a degree of scepticism would be wise, given the experience of cases such as the ricin plot that never was.

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Updated and expanded new Chinese edition just released.


Turkish edition just published!

When China Rules the World is the first book to fully conceive of and explain the upheaval that China’s ascendance will cause and the realigned global power structure it will create.

New edition available now from:

Amazon UK
and all good booksellers.

US second edition is available now via: 

Amazon US